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First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Announces Divorce

Bishop Gene Robinson says he and his husband, Mark Andrew, are getting a divorce. The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Robinson retired last year, a decade after his election alienated many conservative Anglicans.

The pair had been together for 25 years. Robinson disclosed the divorce this weekend, in an email to the Diocese of New Hampshire and in a column for The Daily Beast in which he wrote:

"My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate. Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot. It will take a lot of work, a lot of grieving, and a large measure of hope to see it through. And that's where my faith comes in."

"Life is hard," the retired bishop said, "and that is true whether you're in your teens or in your 'golden years.' "

Robinson and Andrew were joined in a civil union in 2008; that bond converted into a marriage in 2010, after New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage.

Religion News Service reports:

"Robinson went public with his sexual identity and divorce from his wife in 1986. He has since been open about the heavy toll he has faced under public scrutiny. Four years ago, he underwent treatment for alcoholism."

In his Daily Beast column, Robinson thanked Andrew for "standing by me" during the struggles he has faced in his personal life and career.

NPR's Ramona Martinez reports for our Newscast unit:

"Hundreds of parishes left the American Episcopal Church in protest of Robinson's consecration and aligned themselves with more conservative branches of the greater church.

"The Anglican Communion is made up of international branches of the Church of England, which share a common faith. But they don't have to agree on every issue. For example, the Church of England has only recently allowed women to be elected as bishops, while female bishops have existed in the Episcopal Church for decades."

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